10 March 2023

Community groups launch petition over private schools' car park incursions

| Ian Bushnell
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Brindabella Christian College car park

Brindabella Christian College car park has been a source of contention for years. It was sealed in 2016. Photo: Region.

Concerns about the creep of private interests onto public land have prompted a petition to the Legislative Assembly.

The Lyneham Community Association has joined forces with the Griffith Narrabundah Community Association and the North Canberra Community Council to launch the petition, ‘Stop Private Car Parks on Protected Green Open Spaces’.

Both community associations have been engaged in long-term running battles with private schools over their encroachment on adjacent sports fields for parking.

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LCA spokesperson Kate Bradney said the catalyst for the petition was the continued lack of action from the ACT Government about the Brindabella Christian College car park on the Lyneham Oval and a recent development application from Canberra Grammar School to formalise a temporary school car park on a similarly protected piece of land in Griffith.

Ms Bradney said both sites were PRZ1 zoned Urban Open Space intended to provide green open space for the enjoyment and recreation of everyone in the community, as well as flora and fauna habitats, and environmental corridors.

“These are areas of public land that have been specifically reserved in our legislation for the environment and the outdoor enjoyment of everyone, not for private institutions to take for their car parking needs,” she said.

“It’s crucial that we urgently stand up for public green open spaces in the ACT.”

car park on Monaro Crescent

Canberra Grammar wants to ‘formalise’ the gravel car park in Monaro Crescent. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Ms Bradney said the car park developments have wider implications, beyond Lyneham and Griffith, for the whole of the ACT.

“If we do nothing, it will set a precedent and may pave the way for other private institutions to take protected public land to build car parks in other areas of the ACT,” she said.

The petition says car parks for private institutions are prohibited developments on these sites under the current planning legislation.

It calls on the government to stop allowing private schools and private institutions to develop car parks on protected public green open spaces that border their block and withdraw support for the current (and any future) applications for such developments on PRZ1 zoned or protected public land.

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The petition wants the government to uphold and enforce the current legislation, take action against private schools that have built car parks without permission, and ensure any degraded land is regenerated.

It calls for private schools to be required to conduct a Transport Impact Assessment (TIA) so any development does not impede the functioning of active travel or public transport operations for the wider community.

Ms Bradney has led a campaign against the Brindabella car park, which she said was built without proper approval and was unsafe and a hazard for pedestrians and cyclists, especially children going to and from other schools.

Late last year, the LCA lodged an application for a Controlled Activity Order, which would enable it to take the matter to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but it was still awaiting the outcome.

The petition is open until 16 July.

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One has to wonder what personal benefit of government members (whether politicians or public servants) leads to this outcome.

Absolutely. The local lyneham community have been drawing the ACT Govs attention to this car park on public land, the unchecked expansion of the school, and the dangerous traffic for almost a decade, and asking them to investigate. It’s way beyond the point of simple mistakes or simply a lack of oversight from Gov, and makes me question exactly why and how this has been allowed to happen.

lynehamlover9:18 pm 12 Mar 23

The BCC originally had a legal and functional carpark within their school block. They expanded buildings onto their carpark, and created the dirt bowl and dangerous car park on the oval. It’s not the local Lyneham Communities responsibility, nor the ACT Governments responsibility to solve BCCs parking dilemma and gift or sell them public land. It was poor planning on the BCCs part. Taking holding of protected public land and then tarring a car park on it, that they knew was not sanctioned by Government is really poor behaviour, and not the type of behaviour we should be encouraging in the ACT. It’s absurd.

At the very least they should pay market rent for lease of the land. But it also seems clear that they are targeting sites near public land in the expectation that at some point some mates in government will get them grants. So I would prefer that it is clearly disallowed.

Another issue was why did the government allow the expansion of Brindabella Lyneham in that location. It clearly wasn’t a suitable place for a large out of area school. Such schools should be built in the burbs where there is better access and the traffic doesn’t add the existing morning peak.

Exactly!! The strategy is: ask for forgiveness rather than asking for permission (although in BCCs case they did ask to buy this land, and we’re denied by Gov because it’s pe: and PRZ1 protected).

If the ACT Gov allows this, these two private schools are simply laying down the blue print for any other private institution to take possession of our protected open green spaces.

Finagen_Freeman9:07 am 12 Mar 23

So much for our government being custodians of land we entrusted them to manage. Give it away.

Thank you for putting the spotlight on this RiotACT. I imagine, based on previous news stories and inquires in recent years, that a lot of other questionable developments have been ushered through (or wilfully ignored) by Gov in the past decade years. Interesting to see if any others surface.

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